There will come a day in most people’s lives when they will start to wonder if their memory is going. One day you’ll put down your keys and not be able to remember where they are. You’ll pick up the phone and suddenly be unable to remember who you were about to call. According to the Harvard Medical School, “Most of the fleeting memory problems that we experience with age reflect normal changes in the structure and function of the brain. These changes can slow certain cognitive processes, making it a bit harder to learn new things quickly or screen out distractions that can interfere with memory and learning.” Luckily, there are several ways to slow or even stop this mental aging. Here are a few of them:
Don’t stop learning
As you age, your mind loses the habit of committing new facts and ideas to memory, and thereafter you will find it more difficult to remember names, faces, or ideas. This process is slowed in those who seek further education. This doesn’t necessarily mean going back to college. It might just mean taking a class at the local community center or learning a new skill.
Crossword puzzles and Sudoku have also been proven to help improve cognitive function. Most newspapers contain one or both of these brain teasers and there are myriads of others that can be found online for free. Crossword puzzles help expand your vocabulary. Sudoku challenges logical thinking and math skills. You don’t have to be great at them; you just have to be willing to try.
If you believe that you are losing your memory, you will be less likely to try to commit things to memory and will therefore exercise the full extent of your cranial capacity less frequently. According to Harvard Medical School, “Middle-aged and older learners do worse on memory tasks when they’re exposed to negative stereotypes about aging and memory, and better when the messages are positive about memory preservation into old age.”
Like the little engine that could, tell yourself you can remember, and you will!